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How Much Violence Against Women is There? (From Violence Against Women and Family Violence: Developments in Research, Practice, and Policy, 2004, Bonnie Fisher, ed. -- See NCJ-199701)

NCJ Number
Date Published
11 pages

Following an overview of the various survey methodologies that have collected data on violence against women, with a focus on the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS), this paper presents some trend data and descriptive findings on violence against women from the NCVS for 1993-98, as well as data on homicides of women drawn from the Uniform Crime Reports (UCR).


For seven major types of crime -- rape/sexual assault, robbery, aggravated assault, simple assault, household burglary, motor vehicle theft, and theft -- the NCVS obtains a broad range of information about victims, crime incidents, offenders, and the consequences of crime. This paper identifies differences between the NCVS and other surveys that encompass violence against women, namely, the National Violence Against Women Survey (NVAWS) and the National College Women Sexual Victimization Study (NCWSV). The NCVS focuses on crime and events that victims of violence perceived to be crimes. In contrast, NVAWS is presented to respondents as a personal safety survey, and NCWSV gauges "unwanted sexual experiences." Regarding the NCVS findings on intimate partner violence for 1998, approximately 1 million violent crimes were committed against persons by their current or former spouses, boyfriends, or girlfriends. Such crimes were committed primarily against women; women were victims of nonfatal intimate partner violence at a rate about five times that of men. In 1998, intimate partner homicides accounted for about 11 percent of all murders nationwide. They constituted approximately 33 percent of murders of women, but only 4 percent of murders of men. Women experienced a 21-percent lower rate of intimate partner violence in 1998 than in 1993. Regarding homicide by intimate partners from 1976 through 1998, they declined substantially from 3,000 murders in 1976 to 1,830 in 1998. Generally, the number of women killed by an intimate partner remained stable between 1976 and 1993 and then declined 23 percent between 1993 and 1997. Between 1997 and 1998, however, the rate increased 8 percent; the number of men murdered by an intimate partner declined 60 percent from 1976 to 1998. Most victims of intimate partner homicide were killed by their spouses. For nonfatal intimate partner violence between 1993 and 1998, women experienced victimization at higher rates than men across all demographic categories. This paper reports nonfatal victimization rates by race/ethnicity, age, household income, marital status, home ownership, and location (urban, suburban, and rural). A section on the nature of intimate partner victimization addresses location and time, children younger than 12 years old present in the household, injuries and treatment, and reporting to police. In comparing findings among the various types of surveys, the paper notes the disparity among the three surveys' findings, which suggests that a great deal of violence suffered by women is not viewed by victims as criminal. This paper recommends obtaining information on violence against women in a variety of ways, so as to capture fully the nature and extent of a variety of acts that can be categorized as "violence against women." 3 exhibits and 2 notes

Date Published: January 1, 2004